Presenting at the Society of Neuroscience Conference, Catherine Zimmerman
The Society for Neuroscience Conference is the biggest neuroscience-focused conference in the world and Catherine Zimmerman not only attended the event in Chicago, but she presented her senior thesis research there as well. On the first day she attended a three-hour symposium on behavioral epigenetics, which left her feeling excited and inspired for the rest of the conference.
Her thesis, focused on early-life stress and its relation to brain changes throughout development, was grouped with hundreds of other researchers investigating the same topic. “It’s one thing to read papers online, but it is really amazing to be able to walk up to a poster and talk directly to the researcher who conducted the experiment and ask any question,” she said. “It was incredibly valuable to be on the receiving end of this as well; I got a lot of feedback and critiques on my project to bring back to campus as I finish up my thesis.”
Zimmerman described this experience as one of the most valuable and enriching experiences she’s had at UD. She started research in Dr. Roth’s lab in her sophomore year. “Attending such a huge and important conference like Society for Neuroscience was a really incredible moment for my experiences over the past two years to come together,” she said. “I left the conference feeling inspired and motivated to continue my work for my thesis and I am returning to the lab with a new sense of confidence.”
A Musical Summer, Ryan Doyle
Only one day after taking his last final exam, Ryan Doyle set off to Varna, Bulgaria to begin the four-week Varna International Music Academy. Doyle had auditioned for the program after meeting the CEO and Operations Manager at the American Choral Directors Association national conference in 2019. He was selected for this prestigious opportunity and cast in the role of Marco in Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi opera. This also came with a seat in various conducting workshops taught by professionals from all over the world.
“As could be expected, we dove immediately into rehearsals, which on average lasted from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.,” he said. Each day was a mix of music and staging rehearsals, voice lessons, and seminars. “The conducting seminars were most interesting, allowing us to work with a live orchestra to develop gesture and expression to musicians with whom we could not speak English,” he said. “I conducted part of Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ violin concerto from The Four Seasons.”
After conducting and performing in opera and chorus roles at the Academy festival, Doyle flew to Aix-en-Provence, France for the Delaware Choral Academy’s Summer Symposium led by Dr. Paul Head. This was another great hands-on-learning opportunity with concerts in spaces like the Cathedral Saint-Sauveur and the Abbaye de Silvacane. These experiences “proved to be life-changing, and the time spent under the faculty was so mind-blowing and transformative that I found myself never wanting to leave Aix or the gorgeous sites that surrounded it,” Doyle reflected.
Costa Rican Sea Turtle Conservation, Kimberly Brogan
Winter 2020 was exciting for Kimberly Brogan because she got to participate in an adventure with the International Volunteer HQ organization. Each afternoon the volunteers worked in the hatchery, where up to 84 turtle nests could be housed. They cleaned old nests, dug out and created new nests, and got to release baby sea turtles that hatched. When they were not in the hatchery, the volunteers participated in beach cleanup and educated locals on the importance of protecting the three turtle species living on Playa Junquillal: Leatherbacks, Olive Ridleys and Black sea turtles all lay eggs on that beach.
“During the night we would go on walks up and down the 2.5 mile beach searching for adult sea turtles laying their eggs and creating nests,” she said. “We would collect the eggs and bring them to our hatchery to protect them from natural predators and poachers.” Eating sea turtles remains a tradition in Costa Rica, despite it being illegal to do so. “I am very grateful to have had this opportunity,” she said.”I learned so much about marine science and Costa Rican culture and it has only solidified my passion for oceanography and environmental sustainability.”
Therapy Abroad in the Dominican Republic, Whitney Tam
Whitney Tam wants to be a bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist, and spending time at the Tykes Camp in La Cienaga solidified that passion. She worked along therapists and volunteers to lead activities for campers who all have various disabilities that have delayed their speech/language acquisition. Her group focused on gross motor skills, planning games that allowed for physical activity while still helping with their speech and language. She also got to work one-on-one with a child who barely spoke at the beginning of the six-day camp and by the end was able to say por favor without prompting. Tam also was able to observe therapists do pre-screening exams in Spanish, watching how the they interacted with potential patients. “Overall, I had an amazing time in the Dominican Republic with this program,” she said. “It enhanced my education in ways that a regular classroom could not.”
An Imperfectly Perfect Trip, Elizabeth Weimer
Elizabeth Weimer volunteered to teach English to Venezuelan refugees in Cusco, Peru. She stayed with a host family, worked on her Spanish and learned a lot about the culture of the mountainous region of Peru. “When I first arrived in Cusco, I was thrown for a slight loop,” she said. “I had somewhat assumed when I signed up to teach English, that it would be to children.” She ended up teaching six classes with one other volunteer, and a majority of her students were adults. Although a little worried to be teaching adults at first, she reflected, “The Venezuelans really wanted to learn and were truly amazing and grateful people with all different stories.”
Cusco is 11,000 feet above sea level. Weimer explored the city for a week, learning bus routes, trying new foods, and acclimating to the elevation difference. Then she went higher, hiking to Huanya Picchu (overlooking Machu Picchu and higher still to Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) which is more than 17,000 feet above sea level. Coping with sore legs and thinner air was worth it, as she left with beautiful pictures and knowledge of the Inca civilization. While Weimer was traveling alone, she ended up hiking the mountains with two Blue Hen alums she met on tour. “The were even nutrition majors, like I am,” she said.
Of course, while not everything about the trip was perfect, she wouldn’t change anything (except for the 8 hour flight delay on her way home).
Eliza Elliot Interns with Prelude Therapeutics, June-December 2019
As a student at UD, Eliza Elliot spent almost 7 hours ever day in a lab learning techniques, but through her internship she was able to apply the techniques to conduct cancer research. Prelude Therapeutics is a startup that focuses on small target therapies to treat cancer. “I was part of the early discovery team,” she said. “My role in the lab was to help run experiments that would validate genes that could be targeted by a drug.” The company had two sides – one to develop drugs (chemistry) and one to test drugs (biology). Elliot was on the biology side. She worked with cell cultures, PCR, RNA extraction as well as growing vectors in E. coli.
Prelude gives interns an immersive experience by allowing them to attend seminars, team meetings, and lunches with the CEO. “Lunch with the CEO was especially valuable because we all got a chance to talk about what our expectations were coming into a small biotech company, how they changed over the course of the internship, and also hear about the journey to starting a company,” she said. At the end of the summer, each intern presented their work to the entire staff. In the fall, she continued her internship by taking classes on Mondays only and spending the rest of the week at Prelude in Wilmington.
Advice for future students: Because of her interest in cancer research, Elliot first applied only to highly competitive research institutes. If she were to do it again, she would have considered small biotech companies earlier. “Small biotech companies will probably have a lot more opportunities for growth and individualized attention than a bigger company, which can be very valuable for a first internship in a lab,” she said.
Alexa Chronister works with the Brady Campaign in Summer 2019
“As a policy research intern, I had an incredible experience that enriched my academic coursework, allowed me to make connections in the policy world, and gave me the chance to work on an issue I am extremely passionate about,” she reflected.
Her issue, gun violence prevention. No day was quite the same at the Brady Campaign. Daily goals change and are often dictated by what’s happening in politics or real world events. “It was not hard to see how dedicated the individuals at Brady were to preventing future acts of gun violence and their commitment to uniting all Americans on a policy issue that is seemingly dividing our country,” she said. Not only was Chronister creating research reports, educational materials, and contacting presidential campaigns, but she got to explore her interest in law. “I was able to hear from Brady’s lawyers about their experience and their current cases, as well as from their legal interns about their law school experience and future goals,” she said.
She got to attend press conferences, protests, vigils and an exciting social campaign called “We Need to Know,” which works to spread awareness and gather support for a bill which would fund gun violence research through the CDC. “I was led to Brady from my experiences growing up in the lockdown generation, seeing the impact of gun violence on my Jewish community, watching my friend survive a school shooting, and being inspired by her leadership in March For Our Lives: Parkland,” Chronister reflected. “I am incredibly thankful for the experience I had and hope to continue to stay involved in the movement in the future whether through my professional focus in public policy or through volunteer work.”
Reflection of New Zealand Honors Enrichment Trip – Brianna Bannach & Jared Piñero
Brianna and Jared went to New Zealand in January 2020 to interview entrepreneurs. “It made me realize how universal entrepreneurship is,” Bannach said. “Many of the 20 entrepreneurs we spoke with gave us similar advice and touched on the processes that are taught here at UD, despite their wide range of businesses.” For Piñero, he gained confidence in his potential as an aspiring entrepreneur. Most of the entrepreneurs they spoke to didn’t have some intrinsic advantage to set them apart – “they tried something new just to see where it could take them,” he said.
They were encouraged to consider the environmental impact of start-up companies, even if it isn’t a primary goal. “I have always cared about making a positive environmental impact, but caring isn’t enough,” Bannach reflected. “This trip taught me that you need to incorporate it from the beginning when you are designing a business model.” There was a suggestion that resonated with Piñero to take time (3 months) without pay to commit to the venture you have your sights set on. “This advice really addressed one of my biggest concerns, which is the matter of time,” Piñero said. “I always envision a venture as starting on the side while also trying to stick to a more traditional path.” It really hit him that it is much harder for anything to take off without full-time commitment.
They were able to practice skills – they initiated contact with companies and had to pitch to the founders why they should meet with two U.S. undergraduate students. They negotiated publicity for the companies (check out their blog here: https://jandbkiwi.business.blog). They had to think on their feet, reschedule meetings and locations and get comfortable outside of their comfort zones. Whether that was navigating public transportation, different vocabulary, AirBnB, and finding all the meeting locations, they pushed themselves to acclimate quickly to get their project accomplished.
Did you know? New Zealand is a great place to start a business. The process is easy, takes 10 minutes online and costs no more than $60 NZD (~$40 USD). While starting a business is relatively easy, Piñero noted it is a small market and entrepreneurs should looks to raise funds in countries with higher available capital. “This actually can be advantageous because it forces entrepreneurs to be smart with the money they have and stretch each dollar as much as possible,” Piñero said.
Oft-repeated advice: take the leap. Start whatever it is you are passionate about. Their experience in New Zealand also pushed them to think globally – “If you set your goals too small from the beginning, you will never grow beyond them,” Bannach said.
Passport to Google Event in Washington D.C. – Addison Kuykendall and Gia Bugieda
In February, Addison and Gia had the chance to attend the Passport to Google D.C. event, thanks to their Honors Enrichment Awards, where they visited the Google D.C. headquarters to learn more about what a career with Google entails. Each Google staff member at the event talked with the students and discussed the specific path they took that helped them get a job offer from the company. Then, they gave presentations on important topics such as building an effective resume, the basics of technical interviews, personal branding, and more. Through these presentations, Addison and Gia gained valuable insight into preparing for both interviews and job/internship opportunities. Finally, Addison and Gia participated in Google’s Design Thinking Innovation Challenge. This challenge was an interactive experience that showed all participants of the program the process Google uses to turn an idea into a real life app, program, or creation. Addison and Gia were each put into separate teams with students from universities across the region. They were then challenged to collaborate with their team members and create a unique and innovative product to pitch to the judges. Overall, this experience allowed Addison and Gia to make professional connections as well as learn tips to build their career. This will be useful to them as they work on earning their computer science degrees and continue gaining experience in their field.
Volunteering with the YMCA in Spain – Nicole Kennedy
Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Nicole traveled internationally for the first time on a two-week trip around Spain to better understand nonprofit operations abroad. She partnered with the YMCA and visited nine facilities all over the country, connecting with both YMCA participants and staff, to learn about the field in which she wishes to pursue a career. She began her travels in Madrid where she spoke with administrative staff about their roles and learned more about the YMCA of Spain’s mission to develop the potential of children and young people. She also observed an after-school program for children aged three to twelve and was touched by the caring nature of the staff. Then she visited one of the Y’s camp locations in rural Priego which is part of the national program that offers local and international English immersion camps for children of all ages. She spent her second week in Barcelona, Valencia, and Zaragoza getting involved with after school programs where she helped children with their English homework and also observed a Spanish class for adults who had recently immigrated to Spain. She then returned to Madrid and visited an apartment owned by the YMCA for youth who have aged out of government child protective services or are pursuing emancipation. In two short weeks she learned a great deal about nonprofit practices and was able to experience the food, architecture, language, and culture of Spain. In the end, she values the relationships that she formed so much that she considers the trip life-changing.
Exploring Technology and Art in Europe – Ariel Hannum
Ariel always dreamed of experiencing the art of Johannes Vermeer, a 17th century Dutch artist, in his home country of the Netherlands. She finally had that opportunity thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. Throughout her week in Europe she visited the Netherlands and Belgium to see Vermeer’s paintings and meet with artists, researchers, and conservators to learn how he created his art. First, she met with Geert Van der Snickt at the University of Antwerp. His team conducts research using x-ray fluorescence to identify the composition of pigments in paintings. Then she met with Ige Verslype, a paintings conservator at the Rijksmuseum who treated Vermeer’s Woman in Blue. Then it was on to Delft, Vermeer’s hometown. This is where she met with Willemijn Elkhuizen, a PhD student who imaged Girl with a Pearl Earring to create 3D models, with whom Ariel had the chance to discuss the future applications of 3D printing in art. Lastly, she met with Abbie Vandivere, the paintings conservator at the Mauritshuis Museum who led a team of researchers studying Girl with a Pearl Earring. Abbie demonstrated how art is a collaborative field requiring individuals across many different specializations to come together to truly discover an image. Ariel comes away from her trip excited to see how technological innovation will continue to drive advancements in the research of art and engineering. “Next time I am at a museum I will have a new perspective of, and appreciation for, the paintings within the context of the talented people working behind the scenes to maintain the artist’s original visual genius.”
Sea Turtle Conservation Project in Costa Rica – Taylor Key
Taylor used her Honors Enrichment Award to travel to Costa Rica to participate in in a sea turtle conservation project at the National Wildlife Refuge in Ostional. During the daytime, she would wake up at sunrise to dig holes looking for old sea turtle nests that would end up contaminating new nests if left in the sand. They would open any eggs they found to take data on their stage of development. She would then alternate between cleaning up trash on the beach and collecting sticks and logs to ensure that the baby turtles would have a clear path to the ocean once they hatched. The night patrols consisted of four hour shifts of looking for tracks of the various turtle species near the tide line. When they found an Olive Ridley sea turtle they measured the shell and flipper, counted eggs, how long it took her to lay, and tagged any new turtles. When a green sea turtle or a leatherback sea turtle was spotted she would place a bag in the hole that was dug to lay the eggs in order to collect them and put them in a hatchery. This ensures that the eggs aren’t contaminated by the sand and gives the nest the highest percentage of hatching healthy babies. On one of her night patrols she was lucky enough to work with a leatherback sea turtle whose shell measured 58 inches in length. She also witnessed baby sea turtles emerging from their nests to follow the moon home to the ocean! During her downtime she was able to watch the sunrise and sunset, go ziplining, and make friends from all around the world. Taylor described this trip as “a life changing experience that I will never forget.”
Volunteering in Israel – Olivia Rogal
This winter, Olivia wanted to further her international experience in engaging with women suffering from gender-based violence. Her Honors Enrichment Award helped provide that opportunity when she chose to volunteer with the Eritrean Women’s Community Center in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The EWCC is making a commitment to be led by asylum-seekers with the goal of being a service for the community by the community. Many of those that the EWCC help are women who experience violence from within their own community. Of the 35,000 refugees in the country only 13 individuals have been given official refugee status by the government. This government policy, among many others, spirals down to impact every aspect of the life of the refugee. Olivia learned that without a legal status, they are unable to get driver’s licenses, access to public schooling and national healthcare services, and are limited to working roughly 8-10 hours per week in low-paying jobs. The organization was also working through a funding crisis during her time there which taught Olivia about the bureaucratic difficulties in positive change-making in the non-profit space. There were times when volunteers outnumbered the community members at the center which called to question her role and how much she was truly contributing to the community. This helped shape her perspective on not whether volunteering is meaningful, but how the meaning of what it means to be a volunteer can be changed. Since her return, Olivia has allowed this experience to shape her priorities and interaction with her community, non-profits, and policy advocacy. She has learned to listen intentionally, to understand historical contexts, and how to be an ally, volunteer, and friend. This experience both affirmed and shed light on the combination of direct service and policy in women’s issues, a framework she is certain to take with her in her future career and personal development.
Attending the Engineers Without Borders 2018 National Conference in San Francisco – Alexia Stock, Rebecca Huber, and Noah Kennedy
Honors students Alexia Stock, Rebecca Huber, and Noah Kennedy represented UD at the Engineers Without Borders 2018 National Conference in San Francisco, CA thanks to their Honors Enrichment Awards. It was a fantastic team building experience as well as a great way to communicate with other chapters across the nation. Alexia described it as “one of the most valuable experiences I pursued this semester.” She learned about post-disaster response and screening of structural safety, contextual engineering, and human-centered design thinking. Rebecca and Noah spent a day learning about solar pump technology application and considered how it can be used in Malawi which is a partner community to the UD chapter. Noah also had the chance to speak with students from Cal Poly and Harvard about similar projects they were working on with their communities and how to overcome cultural barriers in doing so. Rebecca appreciated the opportunity she had in gaining experience with the national organization’s new database which she hopes will lead to better networking opportunities for the chapter. She also learned about new strategies to enhance membership retention that she is excited to implement in the near future. Overall, the experience left the group inspired and feeling ready to bring about meaningful and positive change to their organization.
Competing in the Malta Hackathon and Conference – Mark Seda and Jonathan Wood
Mark Seda and Jonathan Wood attended and competed in a week-long blockchain conference and hackathon in Malta with the help of their Honors Enrichment Awards. Jonathan is interested in blockchain technology because he sees it as a way to reshape the internet by bringing more control to individuals while Mark was excited for the chance to work on a technical project while being around others working towards that same goal. At the conference they had the chance to meet with businesses, engineers, investors, and leading blockchain thinkers from around the world. Their hackathon project, entitled “Gaming for Good”, involved creating an online casino where all losses are donated to charity. They made a 3D virtual slots game and used blockchain technology to enable public verification of the winner while allowing the losses to automatically be sent to charity. In classic hackathon spirit, they stayed up all night on the last day working on the project. Although they were among the top contenders they ultimately did not place, but they still learned a lot from the experience. Jonathan appreciated getting to dig into a large platform’s technology and exchange feedback with the lead developer team, speaking with internet veterans about their latest research, and meeting venture capitalists to hear the latest trends they are investing in. Mark was grateful for the chance to meet and work with people from all over the world who are passionate about blockchain and he brings back with him connections, new skills, and perhaps most importantly, memories that will last a lifetime.
Interning with the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in California – Lillie Binder
This past winter, Lillie participated in an internship with the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, California thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. The center operates as a rehabilitation and release facility as well as an animal sanctuary for animals that couldn’t be released back into the wild. During her time there she was introduced to the daily operations of a wildlife center. This included the husbandry duties and getting the opportunity to shadow both a Registered Veterinary Technician and a wildlife veterinarian where she was able to observe and learn from a variety of examinations and procedures. She also helped with preparing diets for many different species which broadened her understanding of what animal husbandry and wildlife care in general entails since the center only handles carnivorous species, differentiating this experience from her past experiences at wildlife centers. She also completed an independent project and chose to build enrichment elements for some of the sanctuary bobcats. Through this project she was able to learn which forms of enrichment are better suited to different species of animals based on their natural behaviors. Lillie hopes to use this up-close and personal experience with wildlife in the future as she moves closer to her goal of becoming a veterinarian!
Aero SAE Annual Design Competition in Texas – Lauren Icarangal, Andrew Kacmarcik, Kristen Reilly, and Emily Thompson
Honors students Lauren Icarangal, Andrew Kacmarcik, Kristen Reilly, and Emily Thompson had the opportunity to represent UD at the Aero Society of Automotive Engineers annual design competition in Fort Worth, TX with the help of their Honors Enrichment Awards. They designed, manufactured, and tested a remote-controlled aircraft capable of releasing payloads which had an impressive showing in the competition’s advanced class. The aircraft had to be transported by car so the students made the 24-hour drive with only one stop in Nashville, TN! The Aero SAE competition took place over three days, involved 80 international schools, and was composed of oral presentations, technical inspections, and flight rounds. The team faced several challenges throughout the competition but remainedpersistent and were able to complete a successful flight. As a first year competition team, they learned about building a remote-controlled aircraft in compliance with the competition’s mission and technical requirements. There were several nuances about the competition that they had not expected and the team learned to be decisive and work together under pressure. Keeping an open mind and remaining persistent are important during the design process and competition as they encountered numerous setbacks due to individual component failures on flight days, but ultimately they were able to identify the causes and complete successful flights. With this experience, they hope to better guide and instruct future students that plan on taking part in this competition and will look to encourage future teams to further relationships and network with experienced schools to enhance UD’s program.
Presenting at the Italian Cinema Symposium at Indiana University – Allison DeNicola
Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Allison attended the New Trends in Modern and Contemporary Italian Cinema Symposium where she presented an analysis on the films The Night Porter and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. She was the only undergraduate speaker at the symposium and feels like she benefitted greatly from interacting with various directors, professors, and graduate students. Although there was a bit of a language barrier with many attendees speaking in Italian, Allison found much of the material enlightening and helpful for the preparation of her own analysis. She was a bit intimidated at the prospect of speaking in front of experts, but she was reminded of one of the theses for her presentation: we are all human and more alike than we are different. This helped her remain calm and focused while she was talking and it allowed her to feel like she was on a level playing field despite her significantly younger age. At first she was unsure of her approach but by the time she had finished she felt confident that she met her goals. One attendee approached her afterwards to comment on how refreshing it was to hear such insight from an undergraduate which is a rare occasion at the conference. Although the overall attendance was fairly low she still felt like it was a huge honor to have her work highly regarded by even one person at the conference. Allison also wanted to give a substantial amount of credit to Professor Winkler as a presenter, a professor, and an individual. “I owe every ounce of accomplishment and experience related to my speaking at this symposium to him.”
Interning at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah – Alisa Rubenstein
Over the winter session, Alisa spent 5 weeks interning with the Best Friends Animal Society thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award. Located among Utah’s Vermillion Cliffs of the Grand Staircase Escalante, the society is home to 1,600 animals. The internship consisted of one week in each of the five animal care areas, as well as educational workshops and presentations where she learned about sanctuary operations, sanctuary history, and animal behavior. She even got to have lunch with some of the founders, ask questions, and learn about their experiences in starting and growing the organization! One of the highlights of the animal care portion of the internship was having the opportunity to work with kittens and puppies. She realized that it is very different from working with adult animals and it taught her a lot about common diseases that affect these animals. The workshops were also an amazing opportunity to learn from experts in the field. She learned about the science of animal happiness, went on a tour of their state-of-the-art clinic, and learned about how Best Friends pushes the envelope in terms of shelter management. They are the largest no-kill shelter in the U.S. and partner with smaller shelters across the country with the goal of creating a no-kill United States by 2025. They also have an open adoptions policy which Alisa took advantage of and brought home her own kitten! She hopes to stay involved with the sanctuary’s Canines with Careers program through which homeless dogs are trained for service careers.
Unraveling Martinique – Sarah Reynolds
This winter, Sarah Reynolds used her Honors Enrichment Award to travel to Martinique to study its history. Her goal was to have a strong starting point to conduct her research for a senior thesis by learning as much as possible about the decision in 1946 to departmentalize making the colony of Martinique part of France, rather than leaving it as a colony or becoming an independent nation. As she wandered through bookstores, libraries, and art galleries she could see a strong focus and notable pride on that era of their history. The most important part of this trip for her was the reminder of how much this moment in history matters in daily life. The departmentalization movement was not only to secure the rights of French citizens, but it was about feeling fully French, and many of her conversations revolved around this idea within the context of race and national identity. As she visited museums, universities, and government archives she learned a lot about the historical memory of Martinique whose growth and development as a culture is one of the Caribbean, but is equally one of France. This was visible even in the grocery stores where she could find baguettes just as easily as a delicious spicy Caribbean sauce that her host mom loved. In Sarah’s own words, “History is always told from someone’s perspective, and that bias is an important thing to keep in mind when writing about a culture that isn’t your own. This trip reminded me and taught me different ways to approach the things I learn to get a fuller picture.”
Presenting at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in Atlanta – Sejal Shah
Thanks to her Honors Enrichment Award, Sejal had the opportunity to attend the Biomedical Engineering Society conference in Atlanta, Georgia. She presented a poster on her research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology involving the applications of shear thickening fluids and their potential role in medical devices and sports equipment. She had the chance to explore all the modern biomedical engineering buildings and to see the labs with high quality equipment used for experiments. She networked with representatives from graduate schools, attended seminars to learn more on how to market herself, and also learned about the current jobs available to biomedical engineers in industry and academia. Sejal had one-on-one time with specific professors related to her field of interest which she considered “another test of my networking skills and I really believe the professors I spoke to would consider me for a position in their lab.” She was excited to draw some special attention from a professor from Northwestern University in particular. Way to go Sejal! In her downtime she went sightseeing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Coca-Cola factory, and Centennial Park – site of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games. Sejal was so grateful to have been given this opportunity where she gained networking skills, graduate school connections, and advice for her potential paths for the future.
Presenting at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in Atlanta – Laurel Schappell
With the funding provided by the Honors Enrichment Award, Laurel was given the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, GA this October for the annual Biomedical Engineering Society Conference meeting. The conference consisted of three days of podium talks, poster sessions, specialized career talks, and graduate school fairs. Based on the research that she hopes to pursue in the future, and her current research background, she attended sessions primarily focused on the advances occurring in cardiovascular and pulmonary engineering. There were entire labs focused on areas of research within this area that she had never encountered before which will help to shape her goals for the future. The research she presented was on developing a microfluidic device capable of quantifying lung mechanics during neonatal development in response to changes in lung structure with the goal of informing the development of more specific therapeutic targets. The opportunity to present this on such a large scale was advantageous for the advancement of her research, as well as for her ability to effectively communicate her work to others. Through discussions with professors and graduate students who approached her, she was able to receive feedback on the limitations of her research prompting further planning with her lab mentor to determine the future direction of the project so that her work can be published. The opportunities afforded to her through attending BMES has significantly influenced her future direction and helped to cultivate the skills of a great researcher, neither of which would have occurred without the Honors Enrichment Award.